Today, my blogging starts from a place of reflection. It’s because next week we are hosting client and friend Joseph Otting for the October Good Leadership Breakfast. He’s flying in from Washington D.C. where he’s the second most powerful person in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. So here is my chain of reflective thought: How did I meet Joseph Otting? What work did we do together that made us so close? How did Otting become the head of banking in the USA? What will people hear that will be surprising?
I’m reflecting because I never imagined I would have clients or friends in such high places. Yes, he’s a powerful leader, in a polarizing administration. But he’s also a simple Iowa-boy, who loves family, and travel, and golf. And he has a hardened resolve for the idea that all people in the U.S. need a healthy relationship with a bank to thrive.
How I met Joseph Otting
During a transition of top leadership at U.S. Bank in 2006, I was assigned five executive coaching clients to help the new CEO, Richard Davis, form the bank’s new leadership team. Otting was living in the Los Angeles market, leading the commercial banking segment. On our very first coaching call he said: “I’m not interested in a short-term, transactional coaching relationship. I want someone who will stick with me over the long-term, be straight with me, and help me grow year-after-year.” That was 12 years ago. We worked together at U.S. Bank for 3 years.
What made us so close?
Some coaching relationships never get to the friendship stage by design. There are some coaching certification programs that frown upon coaching relationships that warm into friendships. But that’s not how we see our jobs at Good Leadership Enterprises. Our stated intention is to only work with people we believe one day will become friends.
For Joseph and me, that friendship accelerated as he became CEO of the newly-formed OneWest Bank in California. I started my own firm in November of 2009, and he took the new role in October of 2010. We bonded because I was learning how to run a business, with clients in faraway places like L.A. And he was merging three banks into one, during the height of the U.S. credit crisis (caused by banks that were “too big to fail.”) In short, we helped each other immensely.
How did Otting get to D.C.?
Current U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, was the owner and brainchild behind OneWest Bank. He courted Otting many times to come and join the administration in Washington D.C. But, it was Otting’s mother who tapped into his sense of civic responsibility which caused him to take the role.
What will be surprising?
Melinda and I few to D.C. last November to be at the ceremony when Secretary Mnuchin asked Otting to take the oath of office. We were so curious! And grateful. It was fun to see him having so much fun…laughing, smiling, greeting the friends and family who shaped his journey.
What I believe we will find surprising is how approachable and direct he is with his thoughts about D.C., the administration, and how he sees the importance of his job. I’m sure you will appreciate meeting him: he’s a good leader, who radiates goodness.
Good leaders reflect on the amazing people who helped them on their journey. And they celebrate the goodness that comes.